Analyzing the Best-Seller Lists – Light Novels

I used to do posts where I looked at the most recent manga bestseller list in Japan and imagined which was most and least likely to be licensed. With Yen leaping into the light novel pool, and some others dipping a toe into it, I wanted to see what would happen if I looked at the light novel 2015 bestseller list and saw what was licensed, what was likely, and what wasn’t that likely.

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1) Is It Wrong To try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Licensed by Yen On, 5th volume out in April.

2) The Irregular at Magic High School. Licensed by Yen On, first volume out in April.

3) My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected. Licensed by Yen On, first volume out in June.

4) Overlord. Licensed by Yen On, first volume out in May.

5) Naruto Secret Chronicles. Licensed by Viz, 3rd volume out in May.

6) Sword Art Online. Licensed by Yen On, 7th volume out in April.

7) Kagerou Daze. Licensed by Yen On, 4th volume out in May.

8) Confession Rehearsal. One volume, part of the Vocaloid franchise. Kadokawa Shoten. It’s possible this could be picked up, but one volume? Not unless Kagerou Daze really takes off.

9) A Certain Magical Index: New Testament. Theoretically will be licensed by Yen On after all 22 volumes and 2 short story compilations of the first Index have come out. A ha. A ha ha ha.

10) Sword Art Online: Progressive. Licensed by Yen On, 4th volume out in October. Has “caught up” with Japan.

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11) Forgetful Detective. 5 volumes to date, Kodansha. This is by Nisioisin, and is a straight-up detective series. I find it incredibly unlikely it will be licensed, much as I’d like it to be. We’re already lucky to have Bakemonogatari.

12) Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?: Sword Oratorio. Licensed by Yen On, first volume out in October.

13) Haikyuu!! Shousetsu-ban!. 6 volumes to date. Based on the Shonen Jump manga, I’d expect if it gets super super popular Viz might grab it. But I mean, like, Naruto popular.

14) No Game No Life. Licensed by Yen On, 5th volume out in July.

15) Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. 4 volumes to date, Kadokawa. A spinoff written by someone else under Kawahara’s supervision. It seems the most obvious license here, but we are somewhat glutted with SAO recently, it’s not by the main author, and it doesn’t star Kirito (or even have him in it at all), so I’m not sure if Yen will grab this.

You see the problem here. There’s barely anything to analyze: Yen Press has been here and gone. If nothing else, it tells you what drives the market. Titles with anime out and manga tie-ins as well, long-runners, fantasy series with harem elements. There’s some Vocaloid outliers, and the Nisio title seems to be based mostly on his popularity as an author in and of itself, though it does have a live-action series.

To sum up, if you’re asking when someone will license that popular light novel series? They’ve done it. Go to your local bookseller and pick it up today.

David Bowie

Yesterday I said that instead of a review today I would write a post about David Bowie. This then left me with the same problem as countless other people had yesterday: what on earth can you possibly say? He’s been around my entire life – I was born the week Aladdin Sane came out. I wasn’t old enough to really get the impact that he made on music from 1972-1978, but certainly in the 1980s I was listening to him, even though until college I was never really obsessed with music. You’d hear his singles on the radio – Ashes to Ashes, Let’s Dance, Modern Love – WELI, my local AM radio station, would play Modern Love incessantly, possibly due to its ‘retro’ nature.

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When I got to college, I began to obsess about music to a ridiculous degree, and of course that meant Bowie as well. My first mixtape that I ever made had a Bowie song on it – Suffragette City, still one of my top 5 Bowie songs. Like many, I gravitated more towards the glam Bowie – I still do, and my first choice of albums to listen to yesterday were Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. But I knew that the musicians that I liked, those whose CDs I bought, and whose interviews I read in the NME, they all talked about a different period that I had trouble getting into – not quite as immediately rewarding, but with greater depth. This would, of course, be the Berlin Trilogy, which was Bowie’s equivalent of The Velvet Underground and Nico, i.e. everyone who listened to the albums formed a band. Except they sold a lot more than TVUAN ever did.

Bowie also touched some of my other musical obsessions. First of all it was nice to have a singer who was in my vocal range – Under Pressure was doable if I didn’t have to sing Freddie’s part! J.G. Thirlwell posted a lovely tribute to Bowie yesterday, talking about how his music influenced his work as Foetus (and likely his current instrumental scoring for The Venture Brothers). Frank Zappa disliked Bowie – stealing Frank’s lead guitar player mid-tour certainly didn’t help – but used Bowie’s then stunning music video iconography in one of his best 80s satirical songs, Be In My Video. There were punk rockers who cited Bowie as an influence, less for the musical style and more for the attitude and exaggeration. And of course as a Doctor Who fan I had to like Bowie – it was a well-known fact that Bowie was secretly a Time Lord, and would never die but merely regenerate.

But sadly that hasn’t happened, and we once again are left with little to say except perhaps “fuck cancer”. I feel bad that I never listened to more of his later period – when I was in college, finally listening to his early 70s period, Black Tie White Noise and Tin Machine II were coming out to critical shrugs. It seemed for a time that every new Bowie album was the comeback… then the next one would be the new comeback, and you’d realized the critics had written off the prior. But that’s music criticism for you, and by the time those reviews came out he’d likely moved on to something else anyway. In the end, I suppose all I’m left with is what everyone else has been saying. David Bowie’s music spoke to outsiders, kooks, weirdos, and those who felt distanced from everyone else. I hope that each new generation who feels the same way can find inspiration and solace in his work, and use it to create their own ethereal, otherworldly beauty. Even if they may find it hard to sing “let all the children boogie” with a straight face.

NYCC 2015, Day 4

By the final day of NYCC, I was pretty wiped, so I decided after a quick tour of the show floor to say hi to people I would find a panel or two, sit, and then take off. I wanted to see the Wabbit! panel at 12:15, so walked into the one before it, and ended up being one of the last folks at Scholastic’s Goosebumps/Baby-Sitter’s Club joint panel. Those series are a bit young for me, but it was nice to see the crowd’s enthusiasm at seeing legends of their childhood on stage.

The panel consisted of R.L. Stine, who was highly amusing throughout; Dave Romans, who does some Goosebumps graphic novels; Ann M. Martin, the author of The Baby-Sitter’s Club; and Raina Telgemeier, who’s doing a graphic novel of that. The authors agreed that one of the most gratifying things about the job is hearing adults come up to them and say that Goosebumps or BSC inspired them to become writers, or editors, or librarians. The two series both suffer from parents not considering them ‘real’ books, so they think their kids aren’t readers even though they’re reading every day. Goosebumps, of course, has a movie out this week, so Stine discussed his having to do 25 interviews in one day to publicize it. He was also amused at people trying to find a moral lesson in Goosebumps – he thinks the basic moral is “Run!”.

Sometimes listening to fans can backfire – Stine kept hearing people ask if he would write a horror novel for adults, so he did – and it bombed. He also discussed the use of cell phones in modern horror making it far more difficult to isolate and panic people. “Who is the one calling me?” doesn’t work as well with caller ID. He was asked about the most scary Goosebumps, and he admitted it was probably the first, as he didn’t have the horror/humor down yet. Martin was asked what the best BSC books are, and she said the most serious ones usually. They also talked about controversial books – Stine had written a Fear Street book called Best Friend that ended with the bad guy winning, and the outrage was huge. Martin said it was a book where one cast member moves away – she had to have them move back as she got too many letters. We also got Stine saying his wife said he was too old to play himself in the movie, which was highly amusing. An excellent panel, and fans were pleased.

After that I attended the Looney Tunes panel, debuting an episode of the current show Wabbit!. Unlike previous efforts to update Looney Tunes that tried to change the formula, this seems to be basic cartoon shorts simply set in 2015, and I was more entertained than I expected, given how much of a purist I am. The animation is looker and occasionally has a Ren & Stimpy feel, and the voice acting is smooth, not trying to slavishly imitate Mel Blanc. There’s a new character called Squeaks who speaks in gibberish, there I think to be a younger sidekick to Bugs. I felt it was a good, solid update.

After that we saw one of the directors, Gary Hartle, and three of the voice actors; J.P. Karliak, Bob Bergen, and Jeff Bergman. I was pleased to see Gary mention that Bugs sometimes needed to be a “stinker”, and they are taking care not to make him too all-powerful or smug like later Chuck Jones Bugs could be. Bugs can also be a sore loser when he’s paired off against people more confident than he is. They also discussed how this new series went back to the basics they did in the 40s and 50s – they think of a premise and then come up with gags and pin them to a wall, as opposed to writing a full script. This allows the plot to be more modular and fluid. The goal is to entertain. They also have voice actors working together more often than they used to, so that they can play and build off of each other.

These aren’t your grandparent’s Looney Tunes; there’s also a desire to fill them out as characters. Bugs has different sides to him, as does Daffy Duck, who they’re deliberately trying to walk back to being Daffy here, as opposed to “Bitter, Jealous Duck”. QUA asked how they come up with stuff for the various characters to do – they said they come up with ideas and see who the best fit would be for them, casting the characters like actors. Speaking of which, Bergen said they still do have to audition, and come in with two monologues each to do AS their character. They also had highly amusing anecdotes about how they met Mel Blanc – they stalked him, essentially, and had to tell the audience multiple times DON’T DO THIS. All in all, I’m pleased with the hands Looney Tunes are in.

After that I went over to the Bookwalker booth, but I’ll talk about that in a separate post. And then I departed. NYCC this year was a fun experience for me, with a lot of panels I’d never really tried before. The sheer scope of the diversity track was amazing and thrilling, and I urge everyone to follow their advice: if you want to change comics, do it by buying the things you love. The manga and anime tracks were also good this year, and there was less of a sense of it being off to the side as there has been in past years. I hope that these posts have given you a taste of what you can expect at this event – just imagine me with 155,000 more people around me and you’ll get the gist.